Where is this walk?

High Cup Nick

September 30, 2019

The walk from Dufton to High Cup Nick is easy and full of interest. For a geographer the U shaped valley is perfect, for the botanist there is a profusion of wild flowers and for for the walker the views are excellent.

The Walk

After miles and miles of hard, but typical walking along the rough moorland of the central spine of England walkers completing the Pennine Way suddenly come across the spectacular geographical feature of High Cup Nick and the impressive glaciated U shaped valley of High Cup Gill. It is a glorious situation, one of the very best in Northern England. Here the valley opening up under your feet and the wide expanses of the  Eden Valley glistening in the distance.

However for those not wanting to undertake the Pennine Way the simple ascent from Dufton is rightly popular and great walk for anyone. The path climbs through some limestone scenery, pleasant and full of interest. As you arrive at the edge of the valley the views open up impressively. It is here that the extraordinary U shape of the glaciated valley becomes obvious. The retreating glacier has carved a perfect profile in the softer limestone rock, creating the scars on the steep slopes. Recently I passed a school party who were clearly enjoying themselves. Well done the teachers, a real lesson when geography comes alive.


A steep descent through the nick brought me quickly to the valley floor. This offers a different perspective off both the valley and its head. Another alternative is to keep high and follow the valley all the way round. This is not as enjoyable.

Navigation Tips for High Cup Nick

I have always though this is a great walk for school children to learn the basics of map work. Learning to read maps will give people the confidence to walk further. In this day and age it is an essential.

  • asiyah says:

    Does anyone have a route which is clearly signposted they could share please- hoping to do this next week, many thanks

  • Pam Laraman says:

    can I hire a TerrainHopper for the climb

  • Alan Crosbie says:

    We are walking High Cup Nick this weekend and would like detailed instructions please.

    • Jonathan says:

      I am afraid we do not provide detailed instructions. We believe anyone going in to the hills should take with them map. compass and/or gps and be able to find their way around.

  • Andy says:

    Fantastic walk this last wekkend, must go again. Wonder if anyone has advice of walking the valley upto the base of High Cup Nick and back. Is it possible and a safe alternative walk and view point.

  • John Bedlington says:

    It is very suitable for dogs as long as you keep them on a lead. There are several springs/small streams that cross the path so you don’t need to carry water. No part of the walk could be classed as a climb. Good shoes or boots essential and waterproofs as the helm wind can change suddenly and bring rain over the tops.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi all,

      Dogs need to be kept under control as it is sheep country but a great walk for them, if they are not under your control then on a lead.
      I cannot agree with John on the water, it is always essential you carry your own water and snacks, even though there are streams there is always a slight risk in drinking from them.
      I have just put a new blog on my latest walk up High Cup Nick here https://where2walk.co.uk/walking_blog/high-cup-nick-in-spring-ish/

  • Jackie says:

    Is this walk suitable for dogs?

  • Steve Byrne says:

    Would this walk be doable in my terrain hopper?

    • Jonathan says:

      Probably but I have not completed it with Debbie North yet. My memory says the route up to High Cup Noick from Dufton is fine but I cant be sure. Will update soon once we have done it. There is a nice bridleway circular to the south as well. Could be perfect!

  • Harry says:

    Mostly signposted very well, and as it is on the Pennine Way it has a clear track. Fantastic walk though.

  • Jean says:

    Not for the faint hearted but well worth it if you have good knees as the rough stoned roads and some of the grassland are a challenge especially if a novice walker. A lovely climb to meet and greet other walkers

  • Steve Warren says:

    Is this clearly signposted and a track to follow for novices

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